Looking at the Lenovo ThinkPad SL500
This a thorough review on the new Lenovo ThinkPad, the SL500, by our our writer, Al. Read its specs, features and performance below.
A trip to the local coffee shop reveals that tablets and smartphones are increasing in popularity. Meanwhile, laptop computers, once a ubiquitous presence in public spaces, are losing ground to their younger, sexier siblings.
While handheld devices are convenient for moving about, the apps that run on them are cheap, and many tasks can be tackled on those tiny keypads and touch screens, these little wonders just can’t match the power and office-friendliness of a good old-fashioned laptop computer. If you’ve suddenly found yourself with the need for more portable computing mojo, but can’t afford something new, consider the Lenovo ThinkPad SL500, a veteran model originally aimed at offices on a budget. It won’t have them ooh’ing and ahh’ing back in the cubicles, but it will give a noticeable increase in computing power and ease of typing while decreasing screen fatigue.
Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 Specs
With its 15.4-inch WXGA (1280 x 800) Active Matrix TFT Color LCD, the ThinkPad SL500 is a solid performer–bright enough for outdoor use. The matte screen reduces glare, which should be a welcome feature for anyone used to a tablet screen. The Nvidia GeForce 9300M graphics card with 256 MB of memory is more than enough for office use, editing movies, and even the occasional first-person shooter. The integrated webcam ensures you can keep in touch with the kids.
Connectivity options have stood up over the past few years. With four USB 2 ports and FireWire, you shouldn’t have much trouble hooking up your peripherals. For video HDMI and VGA connections let you use older and newer external monitors. The 10/100 Ethernet port is sufficient for most office work, though the 56.6k modem is just taking up space. An SD card reader is helpful for transferring photos… if you use anything other than your phone to take photos.
Lenovo ThinkPad SL500: Extreme Comfort
Where this four-year-old workhorse shines is its comfort. The celebrated Lenovo keypad is comfortable even over long periods of time, and the red touchpoint provides an accurate alternative to the computer’s decent touchpad. To the right of the touchpad is a fingerprint sensor, combining security with login speed–a nice feature if either of these things is important to you.
Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 Performance
Performance-wise, the ThinkPad SL500′s Core 2 Duo P7370 2GHz stands up well to similarly-priced machines of its time. The 55Wh, six-cell standard battery should keep you going for four to six hours–unless if you’re using graphics-intensive applications–before the included adapter is necessary. The ThinkPad Power Manager software provides a good selection of options to suit your computing profile(s).
While anyone used to the longer battery life of a tablet or smartphone will not be impressed by these specs, keep in mind that when you consider the things a laptop can do that a mobile device cannot, the ThinkPad SL500′s battery life is very good for comparable machines.
Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 Physical Features
At a few ounces shy of seven pounds, the ThinkPad SL500 is no lightweight, even by laptop standards. Its heftiness is justified by its solid construction. Though not made of metal like many of its popular predecessors in the Lenovo family, the SL500 will stand up to travel and daily use. If it has been a while since you’ve used a laptop, though, do exercise a little care when opening; the screen has a moderate amount of flex that–while not a concern for expected use–should warrant some caution. The same goes for the keyboard and other parts: Unlike tablets and phones, where soft controls are the norm, laptops still use a lot of buttons, hinges, and physical controls that will wear down over time.
When first released, these machines were shipped with Windows Vista 32-bit. Check on the specific machine you are purchasing; if it is running Vista, you should probably factor the price of an operating system upgrade into your budget.
All told, the Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 is a solid investment for anyone who needs to get away from the desktop and needs more computing power than a tablet provides. Going for as low as $450 online, this mid-level machine combines consumer-level performance, connection, and media options that should last for at least a few years to come.
Al Natanagara is a writer, journalist, and blogger whose career includes stints with ZDNet, CNet, CBS, LexisNexis, and law enforcement.
(image credit: http://gallery.techarena.in/showphoto.php/photo/12585)